An employer needs to know (or is that "wants" to know) what the initials "C.A.C." mean. Well, if you look up the organization that issues that certification, you'll find it is issued by the California Staffing Professionals Association (CSP), the California complement of the American Staffing Association (ASA).
Check the CSP home page and you'll discover they bill themselves as a "VITAL" organization. But all of those letters are capitalized. That means "VITAL" is an acronym. What the letters stand for are concepts that are representative of what the organization is and qualities it offers.
There are a number of certifications that are available through evaluative testing performed by both the national as well as the state-level organizations. Successful performance will earn the applicant a particular designation to represent their knowledge and expertise. The ASA lists the types of certifications available through them. The CSP (Certified Staffing Professional) used to be the initials for the credential earned through the CSP organization. That state designation changed its name circa 2000 and became known as CAC or California Accredited Consultant. It still represents the same accomplishments. The rigors are limited to California laws instead of state as well as federal laws. It still requires knowledge of ethical practices.
The CSP has a continuing education requirement; the CAC does not. (Please, don't ask me why.) In a way, the lack of continuing education requirement is a bit disappointing. But when you consider that one who is passionate about their profession will be taking as many steps as possible to remain abreast of industry practices and knowledge, it makes sense that the requirement no longer exists. Additionally, one who is actively practicing will in all likelihood also be attending chapter meetings and thereby staying up to date on innovations through the educational section of each meeting.
You may be wondering about the significance of certifications and credentials. (Maybe you're not.) Unearthing the language that provides the official CSP explanation of their CAC brought me to a site called Designation Check. They have a page, Credentials Explained, where the various types of credentials are explained, whether there are any differences between a "designation" and a "certification", and more. It's useful to gain an understanding and appreciation of the document (or the initials) that represents the distinction the person holds. It appears Designation Check's specialty is in the area of finance. The information they provide is reliable with regard to certifications for any industry. Certification is a standard practice for any profession.
Back to being a VITAL organization. Back to an examination of whether you've found a consultant. Some have dotted all their "i"s and crossed all their "t"s. They've earned their credential through a valid organization that maintains their standards over time. NOLO tells us about other aspects of starting a consulting business in California. One of them is having a license, which can be a simple as obtaining a fictitious business name (a "dba") through the county where the business is being conducted. It's good for five years. It's required because it helps the public realize it is a business they're dealing with or a group of owners who are operating under a particularly formulated name; it isn't the name of an individual. Also, the dba basically tells the (local) government that this is a business and it may pursue and defend its rights in a court of law under the registered name of the business. Otherwise, the individual doing business under that name has no standing. (Further explanation is required but in another writing.) Once the registration is renewed, so is the standing. The legitimacy of the business is otherwise not affected.
Likewise, if the certifying organization has stopped requiring continuing education and proof of it, the prudent practitioner will continue to enhance their knowledge through various alternative (but reliable) channels and keep track of those "credits". They will continue to be vital, especially if they've needed to step away from things for one reason or another and later decide to re-enter the field.
As with any other profession when you're evaluating the consultant, you'll want to do some screening. Pay attention to what they've been doing in lateral areas. Should you decide to hire them, you'll start them on what should be manageable and then increase the difficulty level as your relationship evolves and your organization can become VITAL because of the quality input you've chosen.
- California Staffing Professionals Association
- American Staffing Association
- Credentials Explained
- NOLO Starting a Consulting Business
- Why Become Certified
- How Professional Certificates Can Help Jump-Start Your Career